Hurricane Arthur has strengthened as it approaches the North Carolina coast.
As of 7 p.m., Arthur had registered maximum sustained winds of 90 mph and was 169 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras. The storm is moving north-northeast at 14 mph.
The storm was upgraded to a Category 2 storm as of 9 p.m. Thursday. The storm is now producing 100 mph winds.
A Category 2 storm means maximum sustained winds of 96-110 mph.
Arthur is the first hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic season.
Hurricane warnings are active across the North Carolina coast. Some islands have evacuated ahead of the storm.
Gov. Pat McCrory has declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm.
Most of the rain and wind with this will remain right along the coast as it should remain about 100 miles east of the South Carolina coast and then move over the outer banks of North Carolina on Friday morning.
By the time it reaches the outer banks, it could be a minimal hurricane. It will then move away from the coast of North Carolina on Friday afternoon and conditions will greatly improve for the weekend.
Conditions in the Piedmont should be excellent on Friday and this weekend as the cold front brings in less humid and cooler air. Highs will fall back to the mid-80s and lows to the mid-60s.
Next week will heat back up to the upper-80s to lower-90s by early in the week.
Gov. Pat McCrory was in Wilmington Wednesday warning those along the coast and beyond to prepare for Arthur.
“While we all want to enjoy a fun Fourth of July weekend with friends and family, our highest priority should be safety during the storm,” McCrory said. “I encourage all of our coastal residents and visitors to take necessary precautions, listen to local media and use good judgment throughout the duration of the storm.”
The governor was joined by Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata and North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry at the New Hanover County Emergency Operations Center to give an update on the forecast and storm preparations.
Governor Pat McCrory has signed two executive orders related to the storm. The first declares a State of Emergency for 25 coastal and adjoining inland counties to prepare for the possibility of any damage, including coastal flooding, caused by Tropical Storm Arthur. The proclamation authorizes the use of state government resources to assist city and county governments in storm response. The second is a waiver of various transportation rules and regulations in order to quickly restore power and expedite any debris removal.
The North Carolina Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been monitoring the situation and will activate Thursday morning with additional personnel on site. The State Emergency Response Team is on standby, ready to assist if needed.
SERT partners include representatives from the departments of Public Safety, Transportation, Health and Human Services and Agriculture, as well as the State Wildlife Division, Office of Emergency Medical Services, the Civil Air Patrol, the N.C. National Guard, the State Highway Patrol, Adult Correction and Swift Water Rescue teams.